Buying vs Renting a Wetsuit

by - Wednesday, April 11, 2012

One of the things I knew I was going to need for my upcoming triathlon was a wetsuit. The Chesapeake Bay in early May is certainly not going to be warm enough to swim in without one.

Annapolis docks
Docks where the race starts

My original plan was just to rent a wetsuit for the day since buying a wetsuit isn't cheap.

But then I signed up for more races, like the Philly Tri in June, which is oftentimes wetsuit legal, and an open water training clinic also in May.

So that's at least two, possibly three, events where I knew I'd need a wetsuit.

Meet my new friend

Wetsuit rentals vary in price, but the average seemed to be around $60 per event.

Assuming I'd need the wetsuit for two of the events that would be about $120. Kind of pricey, but still cheaper than shelling out several hundred dollars for a wetsuit.

I was all set to just go the rental route, making sure I actually liked triathlons before I spent even more money on gear for races, but then I got a tip from a friend that a local bike store was getting out of the wetsuit rental business and was selling all its old rental suits for $75.

To me, that's a steal.

I called the store to find out if they still had any in my size and lucky for me they did. So I bought it.

Me in my new wetsuit

So how do you decide when you should rent and when you should buy a wetsuit?

Consider renting if:
  • You're new to the sport
  • You're only signed up for one or two events
  • You live in a warm area where most races aren't wetsuit legal, but a few early season ones might be
Consider buying if:
  • You're planning to do lots of races
  • You live in a cooler climate and will be dealing with lots of races in cold water
  • You can find an awesome deal on a wetsuit that will save you a ton of money on rentals
If I hadn't found such a great deal on my wetsuit, I never would have bought one for my first season as a triathlete. But in the end, spending $75 to own a wetsuit is going to save me a ton of money on wetsuit rentals.

Did you rent or buy a wetsuit for your first triathlon?

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